Without spoiling too much of the story, Thor’s brother Loki, last seen hurtling into the infinite abyss of space at the end of their movie, is back and he’s got a bone to pick with… well, he’s hurting, so everybody’s got to pay. Loki, and by extension Hiddleston, comes off as wounded and sympathetic, even when he’s threatening to take over the planet. Loki is one of those rare comic book villains, along the same line as Magneto, whose charm is so powerful and whose wounds run so deep that the audience can’t help but be won over.
Wielding the cosmic cube, a Macguffin retrieved from Captain America’s movie, Loki summons a vast alien army to invade the planet. Outnumbered and vastly outgunned, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) recruits every previously established Marvel hero to his cause. Jackson’s role, much like his previous appearances, is no more than a glorified cameo. He’s having fun with the role and at least gets to do more than stand around, but it seems a shame to have an actor of his caliber on hand and not give him better material. To be honest, Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson makes for a much better S.H.I.E.L.D presence than Jackson. Whedon seems to have realized this as Coulson gets a lot of funny moments and one truly badass moment late in the game that had folks cheering. Cobie Smulders, of How I Met Your Mother fame, shows up as Fury’s right hand woman Maria Hill and… well, she pretty much just shows up.
At over 140 minutes, The Avengers is over before you want it to be. The movie takes its time reintroducing its expansive cast, but never slows down long enough to be boring. When the 40-minute long final action sequence that closes things out finally begins, The Avengers has earned the right to indulge in a crap load of things blowing up and fantastic scenes of Hulk smashing puny aliens.
The Verdict: [rating:5]
The Avengers is easily the best example of a perfect summer movie in decades. Unless you’re a complete grouch there’s no way not to be entertained by what’s on screen. Credit a cast bringing their collective A-game to the set each day or credit Whedon with making the best darn pure superhero movie to his theaters… either way, credit where credit is due: The Avengers is one awesome movie. A once in a lifetime alignment of the stars resulting in something unique. Go see it.
Your faithful reviewer,
PS: Be sure to stick around during the credits for a pair of secret endings. One is little more than the pay off to a running joke established in the movie but the other will have comic book fans salivating as the villain for the inevitable Avengers sequel is teased.